Capital Cool Classic 2016, had its share of surprises!
By Bob Corwin
The 4th Annual Capital Cool Classic sponsored by Roundball Academy and held May 21-22 in Montgomery, Alabama, produced results expected and unexpected from its field of 71 teams divided into divisions where each team plays three games over the two days. Most surprising was that host clubs Essence (based out of Florida) and Team Elite (based out of Georgia) did not win any of the top divisions at the event. It is not like these clubs were weak (Both had their EYBL teams go 4-1 in the Nike League).
For this weekend, it was the guest clubs FBC (out of Georgia) and Alabama Southern Starz who took the most honors. FBC took the Capital of Dreams Division (top rising seniors and younger) and the Rosa Parks Division (top rising freshmen and younger) while Southern Starz won the Kings Monument Division (top rising juniors and younger) and Tuskegee Airman Division (top rising sophomores and younger).
Taking a brief look at some of the Finals action…
Capital of Dreams Division
FBC Mo 47-36 Blazers Exposure Red
FBC Mo having won the top division at the Deep South Classic in April was the heavy favorite. Yet the grinding Blazers (based out of the Columbus, Georgia area) hung around, trailing by single digits for most of the game. Having notched upset victories over Essence Purple of the EYBL and the oldest team of the Alabama Southern Starz, this group of Blazers (one Power 5 commitment and a group of players trying to build reputations showed how playing hard can make up for perceived talent) were the overachievers of the event.
Kings Monument Division
Alabama Southern Starz 2018 – Looney 47-46 FBC Black 2018
This one was close all the way with the Starz opening up a modest 5 point lead down the stretch. Multiple turnovers gave FBC a chance to take the lead as time was about to expire but both foul shots (to lead,
then tie) were missed, thus the Starz hung on.
Tuskegee Airman Division
Alabama Southern Starz 2019 – Bush 48-42 Alabama Tarheels 9th
The Starz were better skilled but continued to try to press the more athletic Tarheels. The lead went back and forth in the second half until the Starz went to a passive zone which their opponents tried unsuccessfully to shoot over the top thus opening up a two possession lead at the end.
Rosa Parks Division
FBC Younggunz 8th 41-23 Team B Wright 8th
Out of Metro Atlanta, the Gunz are one of the hottest middle school teams in the South, this spring only taking loses to teams from older divisions. In watching them, with normal maturation and continued improvement, it is easy to imagine that every player on the current roster will get division one offers down the road. The Gunz were not challenged in Montgomery.
Looking at some of the top performers…
Players below are listed alphabetically by graduation year with height, position and club team.
Ariyah Copeland, 6-3, center, Blazers Exposure Red
If only one player in the division was to be recognized, this future member of the Crimson Tide would be that one. Ariyah almost single handedly, held the middle together as Blazers Exposure Red upset (47-42)
Essence Purple in round one. In round two (another upset 61-53) and three (final loss), she posted double digit points primarily in the paint. Copeland has overcome two knee surgeries and recently lost her mother. Meanwhile, she shed much unneeded weight and was barely recognizable with her improved conditioning!
Rennia Davis, 6-1, shooting guard, Essence Purple/TiphHayes3
Davis has been on a roll since leading her Jacksonville Ribault (FL) high school team to the Dick’s title in April and this team to a 4-1 start in the Nike League. Here she was a strong contributor game after game, producing from the perimeter and attacking the rim. Her recent successes is putting her as one of the top perimeter prospect in the 2017 class.
Bianca Jackson, 6-0, guard/forward, FBC Mo 2017
Jackson’s parents are the men’s and women’s basketball coaches at Alabama State. With a smooth mid-range jumper and good understanding of the game (shown again at this event), Bianca is being recruited from the Power 5 level down if she chooses not to stay home and play for her mother. For optimum success, she needs to build her range consistency to beyond the arc.
Tiyah Johnson, 5-7, shooting guard, Blazers Exposure Red
Out of Phenix City (AL) Central High School, Johnson is a good athlete with a good motor and driving ability. Yes, her outside shot needs to be more consistent. For the weekend, she was her team’s second best performer going against three teams loaded with division one recruits. Yet, the word in the gym is that she has been getting very limited division one interest. Hopefully, that will change in July.
Kasiyahna Kushkituah, 6-4, center, FBC Mo 2017
“Big Kasi” has been a solid rebounder and defender for a long time being considered one of the top post prospects in her class. On top of that, one thing she did here was finish more shots enabling her team to take the division title.
Unique Thompson, 6-2, power forward, Alabama Southern Starz 2017 – Bush
Thompson was by far the Starz most consistent player regularly posting double digits and hitting the
boards hard. With a strong build and calm demeanor, she does not back down, scoring mostly in the lower paint with occasional mid-range face-up shots. She is down to six schools (Auburn, Florida State,Georgetown, Louisville, South Carolina and Texas A&M).
Jasmine Carson, 5-8, shooting guard, Team Penny 16U
Carson repeatedly hit double figures at the event. Above average athletically, she can hit the three and showed decent passing ability. A division one prospect, she probably could fill out a bit to raise her stock.
Nadia Cathey, 5-4, point guard, All Alabama 2019
Cathey may be small but she is also fearless. Playing with a good motor, she repeatedly attacked the basket helping her team capture the Riverwalk Division (rising juniors and younger players). Building range should be her priority to improve her stock as a division one prospect.
Caitlin Hose, 5-8, guard, Alabama Southern Starz 2018 – Looney
Hose did a bit of everything in helping her team win the Kings Monument Division not the least of which was posting 15 points in her team’s one-point final’s victory.
Taylor Hosendove, 6-1, power forward, Team Elite 2018 – Hansberry
Hosendove is a good athlete who looks to attack the basket from the high post. A likely division one prospect, at times she could pick her spots to attack more judiciously.
Cameron Swartz, 5-10, shooting guard, FBC Mo Blue 2018
Swartz is a player whose game is maturing. Above average athletically, she runs well and can hit the three ball. Now starting to get Power 5 offers, she could still strengthen up to succeed versus competition at that level.
Eboni Williams, 6-0, small forward, Alabama Heat Elite 2018
Williams is a superior athlete with a decent motor and size. Likely a division one prospect, she needs to improve her range to attract Power 5 interest as currently she primarily scores by getting to the rim.
Jordan Releford, 5-6, shooting guard, FBC Black 2018
Releford had a big weekend highlighted by a 26-point showing in the division semi-final, also tallying 13 points in her team’s loss in the final. Her scoring technique is drive, drive, drive using her compact build to lessen the blows from contact going to the rim.
Jada Scott, 6-0, and Jadyn Scott, 6-1, FBC Mo White
The Scott twins look very much alike and while one may play further from the basket in high school ball, both were doing business in the lower key in Montgomery. Both run well and have good hands. Shots seemed to be within the context of the offense. Both are likely division one prospects depending on skills added in the next few years.
Moriah Taylor, 5-6, guard, Alabama Southern Starz 2019 – Bush
Just coming back from a knee injury, Taylor made a nice showing in Montgomery to help her team win the Tuskegee Airman Division. She has decent handles with ability to run the offense but shoots the three-ball well enough to play on the wing.
Lanetta Williams, 6-3, power forward/center, Team Penny 16U
Out of the Memphis area, Williams is a tall, lefty high post operator. With size and division one athletic
ability, she has a Power 5 upside depending on how consistent her offensive production becomes plus she still could fill out a little.
Amirah Abdur-Rahim, 6-2, power forward, FBC Younggunz 8th
With a brother (Shareef Abdur-Rahim) having had a lengthy NBA career, it is not surprising that his sister is a quality athlete. With improved moves in the key in particular and more skill training in general, a Power 5 future certainly appears obtainable. Currently, her scoring is near the rim although she is able to handle the ball some, away from the basket.
Avyonce (A.C.) Carter, 5-10, forward, FBC Younggunz 8th
Carter is the most advanced player on this talented club team. Her strong build allows her to overpower opponents on penetration. She also has a nice perimeter stroke although those results need to become more consistent. With continued maturation, a Power 5 future is likely after high school.